previous next
[647] as he dispatched1 to Capt. Winslow a request that he would not leave, as he (Semmes) purposed to fight him. Winslow was glad to find their views so accordant, and was careful to heed Semmes's reasonable, courteous request.

The two vessels were very fairly matched: their dimensions and armaments being respectively as follows:

Length over all220 feet.214 1/4 feet.
Length on water-line210 feet.198 1/2 feet.
Beam32 feet.33 feet.
Depth17 feet.16 feet.
Horse-power, two engines of300 each.400 h. power.

Armament of the Alabama--One 7-inch Blakely rifle, one 8-inch smooth-bore 68-pounder. six 32-pounders.

Armament of the Kearsarge--Two 11-inch smoothbore guns, one 30-pounder rifle, four 32-pounders.

note — The Kearsarge used but 5 guns; the Alabama 7. The Kearsarge had 162 officers and men; the Alabama about 150.

Having made all imaginable preparations in a friendly port, where he was surrounded by British as well as French sympathizers, Semmes — having first providently deposited on shore his chest of coin, his 62 captured chronometers, the relics of so many burned merchantmen-at his own chosen time,2 steamed out of the harbor, followed by his British friend Lancaster in his steam-yacht Deerhound, and made for the Kearsarge, which was quietly expecting but not hurrying him, seven miles outside. When still more than a mile distant, the Alabama gave tongue; firing three broadsides before the Kearsarge opened in reply. Winslow endeavored to close and board: but his cautious adversary sheered off and steamed ahead, firing rapidly and wildly; while the Kearsarge, moving parallel with her, fired slowly and with deliberate aim. The badness of the Alabama's practice was notable from the fact that her British gunners had been trained on board Her Majesty's ship Excellent in Portsmouth harbor. Several had recently come on board, as if on purpose to take part in tile expected fight.

Firing and steaming on, the combatants described seven circles; the Kearsarge steadily closing, and having diminished, by fully half, the distance at which the Alabama opened fire; when, after a mutual cannonade of an hour, the Kearsarge, at 12 1/4 P. M., was just in position to fire grape, and her adversary, having received several 11-inch shells, one of which disabled a gun and killed or wounded 18 men, as another, entering her coal-bunkers, and exploding, had completely blocked up the engine-room, compelling her to resort to sails, while large holes were torn in her sides, at length attempted to make for the protection of the neutral shore; but she was too far gone to reach it, being badly crippled and rapidly filling with water. Semmes and his crew appear to have had an understanding that she should beat the Kearsarge or sink with all on board; but, when she began to sink in good earnest, he hauled down his flag, and sent a boat to the Kearsarge to accelerate their rescue from the wreck as prisoners.

Semmes, in his letter to envoy J. M. Mason, adds:--

Although we were now but 400 yards from each other, the enemy fired upon me five times after my colors had been struck. It is charitable to suppose that a ship of war of a Christian nation could not have done this intentionally.

Capt. Winslow does not “suppose,” but states, as follows :--

I saw now that she was at our mercy; and a few more guns, well directed, brought down her flag. I was unable to ascertain

1 June 15, 1864.

2 Sunday, June 19, 10 1/2 A. M.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Portsmouth (New Hampshire, United States) (1)
Blakely (Alabama, United States) (1)
Alabama (Alabama, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Raphael Semmes (5)
John A. Winslow (4)
J. M. Mason (1)
Lancaster (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 15th, 1864 AD (1)
June 19th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: